Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One track minds

Sad to say, from the word 'Go!' I have had the feeling that some people are here to talk about only one thing: sex. That's not good enough. The Church deserves better and many people expect more.

The days of Retreat were wonderful: these were days too of introduction, reunion and international networking.

Sunday morning's worship seems to have been a watershed point. Many thought the Sermon was stunning (as I did): others were 'seriously disturbed' by it (as one colleague put it to me).

My first real inkling that all was not well in some people's minds was on Monday morning when one bishop from the Global South - someone I had not previously known but whose company I have been keeping and building fellowship with - approached me and asked me if I could explain what people were doing on the campus handing out leaflets on behalf of InclusiveChurch. He did not understand why they were here. Moreover, he could not understand how 'that woman (the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church) who had been involved in the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson had been allowed to take part in the liturgy in an English Cathedral the previous Sunday.' He told me he was going to stay in his room from then on. I urged him not to. I explained about the freedoms we gave people in this part of the world to express and circulate their views and advised him that he could choose whether or not to engage. I encouraged him to go to the MarketPlace and to speak directly with the people he felt should not be there. (Later in the day I saw him accepting the offer of literature from the Lesbian and Gay Christians stand in the MarketPlace). The Bible Study for that morning spoke about the storm that blew up while the disciples were out in the boat. Jesus came to them and said 'It is I. Do not be afraid.'

Then - and you know as much about this as I do from the press (for we are living in a very dispersed campus where we seldom see many and we are working through small Indaba groups) - a Statement was issued by the Sudanese bishops calling for the resignation of Bishop Gene Robinson.

Sadly, I detect an impatience with the new process which calls for patience. Two days is not a fair trial of any new method. If the people in the pews rejected any of our innovations on the basis of two outings we would soon point out to them that it takes more than two encounters with the new to explore its potential.

Meanwhile, here at Lambeth, I detect this impatience on the part of some, if truth be known, to get on with talking about what they seem principally to have come here to talk about: sex!

1 comment:

alan said...

Hi Paul,
All this tension in the church over 'that issue' gets us nowhere and makes those of us on the 'wrong' side of the fence feel increasingly excluded, unwelcome and marginalised.

Comments here recently by Iris Robinson, wife of First Minister, referring to homosexuals as 'an abomination' have hurt so many people. A Downing Street petition seeking Gordon Brown to admonish her has reached 12,600 names.

Why can people not live and let live? The church should be worrying about poverty, HIV,famine, Zimbabwe etc etc. These things are so much more important and urgent. I realise however, that those with vast quantities of money have a vested interest in splitting the church. They should be ashamed of themselves!

You sound in good form and it wouold be good to meet again some time.

Alan B.